8 Bucket-List Marathons in the United States

Many of you probably have “running a marathon” on your bucket lists. But here comes the tough question: Which one should you run? With more than 1,100 marathons taking place in the U.S. each year, we understand that choosing a race can be as hard as finding a needle in a haystack.

If you are looking for a unique experience or a fabulous destination, we’ve done the groundwork for you and identified 8 top races that happen from January to December.

While a few of the most popular races are already sold out this year, it’s never too early to mark your calendar and make your way to a starting line in 2016! For extra help, download one of Hal Higdon’s marathon training plans!

LA Marathon


When: The 2016 race will happen on the 14th of February 14. The race is typically in March.
Where: Los Angeles, California
Registration: lamarathon.com

Why you should race it: the City of Angels’ signature marathon debuted in 1986, but it has seen a resurgence in popularity in the most recent years. The point-to-point course starts outside Dodger Stadium and wind its way down to a finish on the Santa Monica coastline, taking runners through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and more.

Boston Marathon


When: Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April. The 2016 race will happen on April 18th.
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Registration: baa.org

Why you should race it: Boston Marathon is the ultimate “bucket list” race for many runners around the world. Not only this is the world’s oldest annual marathon – the Boston Marathon was first run in 1897 – it is also one of the toughest to get into. But once you’ve secured a spot, you’ll conquer the historic course and challenging Heartbreak Hill in front of crowds of more than 500,000 spectators.

Big Sur International Marathon


When: Last Sunday in April. The 2016 race will take place on the 24th of April.
Where: Carmel, California
Registration: bsim.org

Why you should race it: Big Sur International Marathon is quite possibly the most scenic marathon in the U.S. Now in its 30th year, this point-to-point Marathon runs along the famous Pacific Coast Highway and seven California State Parks. The signature landmark of the race is at the halfway point, when runners cross the iconic Bixby Bridge.

Twin Cities Marathon


When: First Sunday in October. The 2015 race will take place on the 4th of October.
Where: St. Paul, Minnesota
Registration: tcmevents.org

Why you should race it: The Twin Cities Marathon is a great way to tour two cities for the price of one! The race starts in downtown Minneapolis, passes four of the state’s many lakes, then crosses the Mississippi River into St. Paul, where you’ll finish at the State Capitol Grounds. No wonder it is dubbed “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America”.

Chicago Marathon


When: Second Sunday in October. The 2015 race will take place on the 11th of October.
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Registration: chicagomarathon.com

Why you should race it: the Chicago Marathon is known for its flat-and-fast course that starts and finishes in Grant Park, winding through downtown Chicago and 29 of its neighborhoods. Along the 26.2 course, there’s not a single spot without spectators, as more than 1 million of them line Chicago’s streets to encourage runners.

Marine Corps Marathon


When: Fourth Sunday in October. The 2015 race takes place on Oct. 25.
Where: Arlington, Virginia
Registration: marinemarathon.com

Why you should race it: Also known as the “Marathon of the Monuments”, this popular race starts at Potomac River in Arlington, Va. and offers a comprehensive tour of Washington, D.C.’s most famous landmarks, including Georgetown, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial before heading back to Virginia. The MCM has also adopted a lottery system in recent years, due to its increasing popularity.

New York City Marathon


When: First Sunday in November. The 2015 race will take place on November 1st.
Where: New York, New York
Registration: tcsnycmarathon.org

Why you should race it: the NYC Marathon is the largest in the world and runners seem to adore the route! The course provides a tour of all five boroughs of New York City, from Staten Island to Manhattan’s Central Park, where you can expect more than a million spectators to cheer you through the finish. To register you’ll have to sign up for a lottery, but the odds might not be in your favour: in 2015, there was only room for 18 percent of the applicants.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon


When: The 2015 race will take place on Nov. 15.
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Registration: runrocknroll.com/las-vegas/

Why you should race it: even though the concept of Rock’n’Roll marathons was created in San Diego, Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas is a runner’s party, where you’ll find a vibrant, enthusiast atmosphere unlike any race in the country. Plus, this is the only opportunity to run the famous Las Vegas Strip at night!

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